"Our hope is that offering free travel gives more of these professionals the ability to help in critical areas of the U.S.”

By Alison Fox
Updated July 14, 2020
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Delta Air Lines is flying much-needed medical workers and supplies to Louisiana, Michigan, and Georgia as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, and has hit these specific states particularly hard.

“We are witnessing the heroic efforts of our medical professionals around the world as they combat COVID-19, and we have deep gratitude for their selfless sacrifice,” Bill Lentsch, Delta’s chief customer experience officer, said in a statement. “Air travel plays a significant role in making connections in both good and challenging times, and our hope is that offering free travel gives more of these professionals the ability to help in critical areas of the U.S.”

The airline said the front line workers who are flown in will then work with state and local governments to get to hospitals where they are needed the most. Delta was looking to possibly extend the free flights for eligible medical volunteers to California, New York, and Washington.

Governors of each state receiving not only the assistance from medical workers, but the help from Delta to get them there, expressed their gratitude on social media.

“We need as many medical professionals as we can get in Louisiana, and this generous support from @Delta will help these heroes get here to care for our people as we fight COVID-19 in New Orleans and elsewhere in our state,” Gov. John Bel Edwards wrote on Twitter.

Louisiana is experiencing a very fast growth of coronavirus cases and has reported more than 3,500 cases as of Sunday, including 151 deaths. The state of Louisiana is under a stay at home order limiting all unessential activities and closing businesses like malls.

David McNew/Stringer via Getty Images

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose state is is currently under a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order eliminating unessential business and preventing dining in restaurants, said on Twitter that Delta’s efforts, “will help Michigan hospitals and health care providers address the influx of COVID-19 patients and help us all bend the curve and slow the spread of this virus. Thank you!”

And in Georgia, where Delta is based out of, the state recorded more than 2,600 cases as of Sunday. Additionally, CNN reported a hard-hit hospital in Albany, Ga. has reported its ICU capacity is stretched beyond its limits.

While CNN noted Dougherty County, which surrounds Albany, has issued a shelter-in-place order (forcing all nonessential workers to stay home) and The New York Times reported several surrounding counties have issued similar directives, Gov. Brian P. Kemp has not extended the order to the entire state.

On Twitter, Kemp called Delta’s initiative “Great news” and added in a statement the airline’s “willingness to go above and beyond to assist medical professionals in this difficult time should be applauded.”

Additionally, Delta previously announced that is bringing medical supplies to the U.S. on cargo flights from all over the world, including 32,000 pounds of pharmaceutical supplies from Dublin as well as operating a cargo flight from Chicago to Amsterdam to deliver mail.

“Transforming our operation to provide cargo-only charter flights allows us to diversify our business at a time where the global need to move critical supplies is significant," Vice President of Delta - Cargo, Shawn Cole, said. It’s also core to what we do and who we are—ensuring we connect the world, even in challenging times.”